Americans push for accessible in-flight entertainment

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Thursday, 3 October 2013 09:44am

Following on from the March 2013 introduction of the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act in the USA, a recent Senate hearing has heard statements that push for improvements to in-flight entertainment for Deaf and hearing impaired passengers.

As reported in USA Today, National Association of the Deaf’s policy counsel, Andrew Phillips, believes that American domestic airlines provide an inferior service to international counterparts.

"In my opinion, the airline industry has done a terrible job of making their in-flight entertainment options accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community. It really bothers me that when I fly other countries' airlines, I am often able to watch movies with English subtitles," said Phillips.

Beyond accessible entertainment, Virgin America was recently fined for not captioning its in-flight safety video. The airline has now added captioning for the video across all its fleet.

The Transportation Department is working on a formal proposal to address the technicalities and feasibility of increased in-flight entertainment options for the Deaf and hearing impaired. The proposal has a tentative deadline of February 2014.

In Australia Qantas continues to be a leader in providing accessible content, ensuring its news bulletins, safety briefings and monthly ‘Welcome Aboard’ messages are captioned for everyone. That said, the airline still requires the odd nudge to improve access. The airline’s recent introduction of iPads for passengers has been flawed by restricting access to the accessibility options on the devices.

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